As the intellectual fountainhead of the ideology of Hindutva, which is in politicalascendancy in India today, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is undoubtedly one ofthe most contentious political thinkers and leaders of the twentieth century. Accounts of his eventful and stormy life have oscillated from eulogizinghagiographies to disparaging demonization. The truth, as always, liessomewhere in between and has unfortunately never been brought to light. Savarkar and his ideology stood as one of the strongest and most virulentopponents of Gandhi, his pacifist philosophy and the Indian National Congress. An alleged atheist and a staunch rationalist who opposed orthodox Hindubeliefs, encouraged inter-caste marriage and dining, and dismissed cow worshipas mere superstition, Savarkar was, arguably, the most vocal political voice forthe Hindu community through the entire course of India's freedom struggle. Fromthe heady days of revolution and generating international support for the causeof India's freedom as a law student in London, Savarkar found himself arrested,unfairly tried for sedition, transported and incarcerated at the Cellular Jail, in theAndamans, for over a decade, where he underwent unimaginable torture. From being an optimistic advocate of Hindu-Muslim unity in his treatise on the1857 War of Independence, what was it that transformed him in the Cellular Jailto a proponent of 'Hindutva', which viewed Muslims with suspicion?Drawing from a vast range of original archival documents across India andabroad, this biography in two parts-the first focusing on the years leading up tohis incarceration and eventual release from the Kalapani-puts Savarkar, his lifeand philosophy in a new perspective and looks at the man with all hisachievements and failings.
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